Any way you choose to feed your baby is, very likely, going to be the subject of some controversy. And even within the dichotomy of "breastfeeding versus bottle feeding" there's going to be people with particular opinions. You know, the "breastfeed but only so long as I'm comfortable with it" crowd. Other, less annoying people will not have much exposure to breastfeeding at all and might have some legitimate questions for you. So I've come up to some responses to the question, "Why are you still breastfeeding?' of varying seriousness (and saltiness, because sometimes a little saltiness is not only advisable but absolutely required).
Look, it's totally fine if you're not comfortable with breastfeeding. People have their reasons. I'm on record as saying that I'm somewhat uncomfortable about people nursing school-aged children. But what's not OK is trying to make people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about their own decisions that have literally nothing whatsoever to do with you. Unless someone is trying to force you to breastfeed when you don't want to (on either end of the equation) you don't have a say in when, where, or whether it goes down.
So the next time someone confronts you with the question, feel free to quip back with any of the following:
"Why Do You Ask?"
One of the many valuable lessons I learned from working at a museum is the idea that, if you want someone to learn something and develop critical thinking skills, the best thing to do is to answer a question with another question. It's not a way of avoiding the question, but a way to ask the person to confront their own thinking on the subject.
It's also a good way to gauge if someone is genuinely curious and wants to learn or if this is their way of letting you know they're judging you. If that's the case, you're right to swiftly and brutally destroy them (with your words).
"It's Still Healthy"
While breast milk does change, depending on what your child needs (like magic), it doesn't mystically go from being a healthy and nutritious way to feed a child to, like, rat poison or something. It's still good for them! So what are you people concerned about?!
"It's Basically Liquid Sleep"
Seriously, "boob juice" was a surefire way to get my children to sleep for a long time. Do you think I was going to give up such a miraculous and appreciated gift just because some schlub thought they were "too old to breastfeed?" Screw that! Mama's getting some sleep!
"I Lost A Bet"
"Yeah, I had a fiddling contest with the devil and he was like, 'If I win I get your soul' and I was like, 'What if I just breastfeed for a really long time?' and he was like, 'OK.' And, well, here I am! I learned that day not to cross the devil!"
"It's Nice Bonding Time"
Sure, there are lots of lovely ways to connect with your baby as they get older, but this is still a totally valid one and if everyone is digging it why bother stopping? There's something really special and sweet about getting an "on-the-boob smile" from your little one.
"There's No Recommended Age To Stop"
"I Was Going To, But The Kid Is A Helluva Negotiator"
"Seriously, you should have seen his PowerPoint presentation. It was extremely thorough and, ultimately, completely convincing."
"To Bother You"
If someone wants to make your decision about how you feed and nurture your child all about them, oblige the sucker. This will either offend them or force them to confront the fact that they are taking your choice about your body far too personally and need to back up.
"What? Oh! How Did That Baby Get There?!"
Of course, for this one you sort of need the child to be actively nursing, so it's a little specific, but I think it's a great opportunity for a solid comedic bit if you find yourself in such a situation.
Also, there's something to be said for playing dumb sometimes.
"I'm Going For A Record"
"I'm hoping to be able to call the Guiness Book of World Records any day now. Hopefully I'll go viral. Maybe E! will offer me my own reality show. I hope they'll let me feud with a few of the Real Housewives! Maybe I can even be on The Real Housewives! I've even practices my opening pose/twirl/catchphrase:
'I make milk... and drama!'
What do you think?"
"What Are You Talking About? I'm Not Breastfeeding Right Now."
Again, this works best if you have a little one on your nipple. I recommend looking completely deadpan, stare directly into their eyes, and just deny what is clearly going on. This seems to work well for some people.
"The Milk Hasn't Expired Yet"
*ba dum chhh!*
"Just Look At How Awesome It Makes My Boobies Look!"
Feel free to grab them and jiggle a little bit. Maybe offer a rendition of Kelis' "Milkshake." Hey, if this person feels OK making you feel uncomfortable with private questions, make them feel uncomfortable right back.
Besides, it's true.
Do A 'Brokeback Mountain' Impression
"Oh breast milk! I wish I knew how to quit you!"
Guys, I'm all about these early 2000s references! Because, like questioning a woman's decisions, they're ridiculous and outdated!
"It's None Of Your Business"
Because it is none of their business and sometimes they need to be reminded of this fact.
You keep on keeping on, mama! Breastfeeding for as long as you want, stop whenever you want; the choice is yours and you owe precisely zero people an explanation.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.